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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28439
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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Our Lab about 60# was bitten by a rattlesnake about 3.5

Customer Question

Our Lab about 60# ***** bitten by a rattlesnake about 3.5 hours ago We are out on a ranch about 2.5 hours from a Vet. He gets very car sick and we feel the drive may be too much for him. We gave him about 120 mg of Benadryl (That is what I was told to do by a friend) Also gave him 2 tsp of baby tylenol, which I have been told I should not give to dogs. He was bitten on the nose. What else can we do. He drinks water then after a few minutes throws it up.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 1 year ago.

I'm going to sound like quite the devil's advocate. Antihistamines such as Benadryl are contraindicated because they can potentiate some venoms. (The recommended dose for envenomations from flying insects and spiders is 1-2 mg/lb repeated in 12 hours if needed. The maximum dose is 50 mg at any one dosing.) Tylenol is safe at 7 mg/lb thrice daily but its efficacy is circumspect.

Here's the current standard of care: All dogs bitten by a snake regardless of their apparent hemodynamic stability should be attended to by a vet at your earliest convenience and hospitalized for a minimum of 8 hours to assess for clinical signs that may first manifest during this period. IV fluid therapy is the first line of therapy to treat hypotension or hypovolemic shock. Antivenom administered immediately for viper bites can increase survival especially when given closer to the time of bite but is still beneficial for at least 60 hours after envenomation. Antibiotics are controversial. Analgesics are a good idea. Opioids (narcotics) are best. Nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as aspirin should be avoided due to the potential for nephrotoxicosis (toxicity to the kidneys) in hypovolemic (decreased blood volume) patients and their effects on platelet function. Tylenol isn't an NSAID. Corticosteroids (and antihistamines) aren't recommended unless a steroid is necessary for an anaphylactic reaction...which would have occurred by now if it were to occur at all. Transfusions are indicated in patients with clinically significant anemia secondary to hemorrhage or hemolysis (red blood cell destruction secondary to the venom).

You can see what I would recommend at this time...a long drive with a carsick dog. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.

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